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So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba, and Song of Lawino, by Okot pBitek, tell the stories of women who were affected by polygamy and how they accept or reject the idea of group marriage.

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Introduction

Candi Walker Professor Melinda Snow Revision Paper April 14, 2008 So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba, and Song of Lawino, by Okot p?Bitek, tell the stories of women who were affected by polygamy and how they accept or reject the idea of group marriage. The Senegalese and Acoli women are aware of their own cultural backgrounds as well as the European influence on their cultures. The women in both novels represent the story of more than just the main characters; the novels reveal the story of women who are similarly affected by what is going on around them. In comparing and contrasting So Long a Letter and Song of Lawino, the audience is able to see how polygamy is practiced within both societies, and how instead of embracing the religious traditions, the women speak out. This paper will carefully examine the behavior of Ramatoulaye and Aissatou in So Long a Letter and the behavior of Lawino and Clementine in Song of Lawino. It will unveil the characters? feelings about polygamy and explain how each character has taken a very different approach in living in a polygamous society. ...read more.

Middle

Aissatou moves to the United States, and perhaps her decision to accept Western traditions influences her decision to leave her husband and reject the idea of group marriage. Song of Lawino, a narrative poem, tells the story of Lawino, who is married to Ocol. Ocol leaves Uganda to obtain an education, and upon his return home, Ocol decides to marry a second wife. Like Ramatoulaye and Aissatou, Lawino is aware of her culture accepting polygamy however, she is not too accepting of her husband?s methods of obtaining a new wife. Like Modou, Ocol does not consult with Lawino before adding to the family. Lawino is not an educated woman, but she is a very skilled woman who is proud of her culture. Lawino feels abandoned like Ramatoulaye as Ocol adopts Western values and customs. Ocol no longer values his own cultures as a Ugandan. Ocol?s rejection of Ugandan cultures hurts Lawino more than Ocol?s decision to take on a new wife. Ocol asks, ?What is Africa [t]o me... [it is] blackness, deep, deep fathomless darkness.? (p125) Lawino writes to her husband, explaining her heartache and her disappointments in regard to his actions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Education is not a factor; instead, they hold onto what they have been taught by their African society and culture. Aissatou and Clementine?s characters also reveal similarities. Aissatou and Clementine are two educated westernized women who are confident in what they will and will not accept out of life. Even though Aissatou rejects the notion of having a sister wife and chooses her own life without being denied a life of her own by her husband, she reveals confidence. Clementine has no problem being a sister wife to Lawino as this is revealed by Clementine?s confidence. Clementine does not allow Lawino?s insecurities to bother her. Aissatou?s and Clementine?s diverse backgrounds has enabled the two strong- minded to accept peace within their hearts and accept their new lives, one with a husband and one without. So Long a Letter and Song of Lawino both reveal how women are similarly affected by polygamy and how they cope with its negatives and positives. Both novels observe gender inequalities in African societies. Many Senegalese women have seen their husbands move out of the range of their education and experience through travel and leaving their wives feeling abandoned and alone. Many Ocols? return home with nothing but contempt for the ways of their parents and their fathers (p.12). ...read more.

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